Peyton Manning vehemently denies an Al Jazeera undercover investigation that claims the quarterback used human-growth hormone to recover from his neck injuries in 2011.
“The allegation that I would do something like that is complete garbage and is totally made up,” Peyton Manning told ESPN’s Chris Mortensen. “It never happened. Never. I really can’t believe somebody would put something like this on the air. Whoever said this is making stuff up.”
Not only does Manning deny the charge, but the source that Al Jazeera relied upon to make it does too. Charlie Sly, a former student intern for the Guyer Institute in Indiana, says he namedropped Manning in an effort to see if Al Jazeera’s undercover reporter, track-and-field athlete Liam Collins, grasped the subject matter or was just another joker. Whether he used the names of professional athletes to boost his credentials, in an effort to feel out Collins, or told the truth when he spoke on the recordings remains unclear.
“When I realized Al Jazeera was using a secret taping and Collins as a so-called investigative reporter, I was baffled,” Sly told ESPN. “I cannot believe that can happen. That’s why I recanted the story. It wasn’t true, and I was trying to pull one over on Collins to see if he had any idea of what he was talking about. I was trying to determine whether this guy [Collins] was legitimate or just trying to steal some knowledge about the business.”
But Sly gave another story to Liam Collins. “Another time that I worked with Peyton, him and his wife would come in after hours and get IVs and s—,” Sly says in a recording. “All the time we would be sending growth hormone, all the time, everywhere.”
Manning confirms he received treatment at the Guyer Institute and Sly worked there briefly. Sly says on a recording of Guyer issuing human-growth hormone, “I know for a fact he does.” He expresses surprise that the Guyer Institute has not been shut down.
The documentary, The Dark Side: The Secret World of Sports Doping, touts “extraordinary claims that raise questions whether an American sporting hero, Peyton Manning, is linked to performance-enhancing drugs.” Collins employs hidden cameras, taped phone calls, and other undercover methods to glean information from medical professionals. Al Jazeera kept the drugs supplied to their athlete-reporter as evidence.
Other athletes named in the documentary include Chicago Cubs player Taylor Teagarden, Green Bay Packers linebacker Mike Neal, Washington Nationals infielder Ryan Zimmerman, Pittsburgh Steelers James Harrison, and Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard. Mike Neal didn’t respond to Al Jazeera. The other athletes deny the allegations. Sly says of the Green Bay Packers, “More than half the team started coming by.”
One Canadian pharmacist explains in the documentary, “I’m not going to lie. Have I doped people? Oh, yeah. And no one’s got caught because the system is so easy to beat. And it still is, that’s the sad fact. I can take a guy with average genetics and I can make him world champion.”
The Indianapolis Colts call the report “utterly ridiculous” and Manning called it a “freaking joke” in a second discussion with ESPN.